The case for a shorter winter break

By Steven Gillard

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The month long winter break between semesters in college is one welcomed by students.  After a semester of 8 a.m. wakeups, late night studying and treks across campus in freezing weather, four weeks at home seems almost too good to be true.  With no deadlines to meet and no tests to study for, the average student goes into winter break with only a couple of things in mind: hang out with old friends and sleep—a lot.

As the first semester of my second year at college came to a close, I couldn’t help but feel a great sense of relief at the prospect of no stress for a whole month.  But now, with second semester right around the corner, I can’t help but feel that winter break might have been too long.

Why do we need a vacation that extends from the middle of December to the end of January?  In my experience, the length of winter break only makes it harder to get back in the routine of college life.  If second semester were to start up a few days after the beginning of the New Year, going back to a schedule of waking up early and sitting in class for hours at a time would not be nearly as hard.

Instead, students stay at home well past the New Year, and become accustomed to a totally different life.  You get used to working.  You get used to driving.  You get used to hanging out with your friends from home.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong getting used to living at home; however, it seems kind of like a tease when you still have the whole spring semester ahead of you and four more months of hard work before the summer begins.

It would make more sense if winter break were only a few weeks long, just enough time for students to enjoy the holidays with their families and spend some times with their friends.  What’s more, if the semester started earlier, it would end earlier and summer vacation could begin sometime in mid-April rather than early May.

It’s not that a month long pause in the middle of winter isn’t nice; it is, but while winter break begins as an exciting and carefree time for most, it often ends in monotony.  There just isn’t much to do, especially when temperatures are freezing and snow covers the ground.  Moreover, it is difficult to remain motivated at home when you know that the circumstances of your life will completely change in just a month.  With second semester looming overhead, sleeping in and staying out late becomes almost justifiable—you have to take advantage of the free time while you can.  However, when you have four or five weeks off, laziness soon becomes a habit and you are suddenly even less ready to face the papers and tests that await you in the spring.

Give students a shorter winter break: they will still have plenty of time to enjoy the comforts of home, but it won’t be so much time that the break becomes repetitive.  I would much rather have the three weeks off following the New Year to be eliminated and tacked on to the beginning of the summer when there is more to do and much more free time ahead of me.

Think about it: in one year, the college student spends about five months at home and about seven at school.  Because living at college as opposed to living at home is so much different, it would be better to make the days spent at college as consecutive as possible and the days spent at home as consecutive as possible as well.

With a shorter winter break, students would be less inclined to sink into habits that might be detrimental to their second semester success and would also be prolonging their summer.  The month long winter break does not seem so much a break as an interruption in the school year, an unnecessarily long one that does little to benefit students and makes the transition back to college more difficult.

Steven Gillard is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]